Donald Trump, the brand: a history of the real estate tycoon turned US president in 1,000 objects

Ego trip: The artist Andres Serranos book The Game: All Things Trump, published this month, features the artists collection of objects related to the US president, which he has been acquiring since April 2018 The Game: All Things Trump courtesy of A/Political

The US artist Andres Serrano has only voted twice in his life: for Barack Obama in 2008 and again in 2012. “I was very proud of my non-voting record, but I had to break it and vote for the first black president,” he says.

Now, on the eve of the high-stakes US election, Serrano tells The Art Newspaper he will cast a ballot for the Democrat candidate, Joe Biden, “otherwise Ill be a pariah in the community”.

Not that you could discern Serranos voting intentions from his project The Game: All Things Trump, a panoptic portrait of the 45th US president created from Trumpian objects Serrano started to acquire in April 2018. That collection has now been turned into a book, printed on paper the same strident colour as Trumps red “Make America Great Again” hat and published on 6 October, a month before voters head to the polls. And just days before its release, The New York Times published a revelatory report on Trump's tax returns, which suggest that the only part of his business empire to ever see any profits was his branding deals, and that his presidential run might have been mainly spurred by the need to revitalise his image for personal gain.

An advertisement for Trump Steaks, from The Game: All Things Trump Courtesy of A/Political

The book includes images of such Trump branded “classics”, as Serrano calls them: steaks, vodka, tea, even a deodorant called “Success by Trump”. Theres a Trump university diploma (“much discussed but rarely seen”), Miss America paraphernalia and a souvenir miniature cake from Trumps 2005 wedding to Melania, purchased for $1,880 at an auction in Boston. The medias role in exalting Trumps sex life and business deals—even when they went bad—is a recurring theme throughout the book.

Hes whatever you want him to be; hes your enemy or your friend, your devil or your saviour Andres Serrano

Far from disparaging Trump, however, the collection is more a reflection on why, for the past 40 years, the world has been so in thrall to the man. Serrano believes it boils down to Trumps power to be all things to all people. “Hes whatever you want him to be; hes your enemy or your friend, your devil or your saviour,” Serrano says. “Hes good and evil or maybe just good or evil. Hes the reason for your dreams or your despair. Hell play whatever role you want him to. He can be the uncle who exhausts everyone at the table or he can be your Santa Claus.”

A magazine cover and a bottle of Trump vodka, from The Game: All Things Trump An advertisement for Trump Steaks, from The Game: All Things Trump

The collection, which now numbers more than 1,000 objects valued at around $200,000, was first exhibited in New York in April 2019, over two floors of a former nightclub complete with a mezzanine bar and blackjack table salvaged from the defunct Trump Plaza in Atlantic City. Liberals accused Serrano of “glorifying this monster” and “adding power to this awful man”, to which he responds: “What artist worries about how their work will be perceived? If the fires need feeding lets put in some logs.”

The London-based organisation a/political, which helped mount the show and publish the book, is now planning to present The Game in Washington, DC, to coincide with the election. Whether that means a full-blown exhibition, Serrano will not divulge, except to say: “It makes sense. The chickens should come home to roost.”

The Game: All Things Trump installation view Photo: a/political and ArtX

In terms of a permanent home, Serrano believes his project belongs in the Smithsonian, also in Washington. “My dream scenario is that it goes to the Smithsonian, the Presidential Library, the Museum of Natural History, or into the collection of someone who appreciates it,” he says.

For now, the collection continues to expand. Recent acquisitions include a limited-edition 24K gold “Build The Wall” collectable from the official White House gift shop, and Trump 2020 campaign straws, featured at the end of the book. The new purchases have prompted daily texts and emails from Trumps sons, Eric and Don Jr, as well as from vice-president Mike Pence, asking for campaign donations.

Invited to Trump's birthday parties, from The Game: All Things Trump Courtesy of A/Political

Serranos “most prized Trump possession”, however, is an 11ft rotating sculpture that spells out the word “EGO”, which once stoodRead More – Source